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Ski Season - Canmore or Whistler?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi! I'm a 25 year old currently living in London but heading to Canada for the winter season. I'm going through BUNAC and am torn between working in Canmore or Whistler. Does anyone have any advice?

A little about me: I'm very social but not a wild 'going out' person... love a dance and a drink in the pub and hanging out with friends, but not into a massive drinking scene! Would rather have a couple but then get out early next morning to hit the slopes. I'm a good skier, but I figure the ski-ing will be pretty amazing and varied in both places so I'm not so worried about that!?

I really want to have a proper Canadian experience so initially Canmore seemed more appealing, but I'm unsure because I've heard that it's much colder there and that there will be a long commute to the slopes, which may mean I don't get to ski as much around working? (I won't have a car so would be relying on public transport). Although I'm equally concerned that Whistler won't seem very Canadian because it's a Euro style resort and will just be full of crazy party people!?

Any advice on any of this (especially if anyone's done a season before in Canmore and can elaborate on what the commute to the slopes is like) would be amazing! Smile
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Quote:

I've heard that it's much colder there and that there will be a long commute to the slopes

Don't rely on hearsay. Those are facts you can check out.

The commute by public transport only will probably preclude any part-day skiing before or after your work shift, or at least make it quite difficult. But it really depends on your work schedule.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@AnnaMc, Is Canmore the only option, or could you do Banff? That'll reduce your commute to slopes by 15/20 minutes or so.
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Quote:

reduce your commute to slopes by 15/20 minutes or so

15/20 min by car. Longer if limited by schedule of public transport.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
What are you planning on doing for work?

Public transport to / from Canmore to the slopes is (I think) generally only beginning and end of the day as it's designed for the tourists. I think the same would apply for Banff but slightly more flexible. If you're needing to leave early to go to a job or doing a morning job and then heading to the slopes I can see it being trickier in Banff/Canmore than Whistler.
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Quote:

Public transport to / from Canmore to the slopes is (I think) generally only beginning and end of the day as it's designed for the tourists. I think the same would apply for Banff but slightly more flexible

That's not my recollection. There are buses in the middle of the day, though may not be as frequent as morning/afternoon.

Even in Whistler, you need to take the bus to go between the multiple bases. Again, more in the morning/afternoon than midday.

Though in all fairness, the distance in Whistler is shorter and more bus routes. So it will likely to be more convenient than Banff/Canmore.

Best to check it out online rather than relying on the vague and outdated memories of occasional tourists.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
I went to Whistler for the season, that was 12 years ago and I'm sure much has changed. At the time all I wanted was biggest best blah blah. Turns out couple of mates came along too, had a blast. Whistler from what I remember is like a Disneyland of skiing. My accommodation was walking distance to the town.

For character and authenticity you're probably better off in Banff/canmore. I also believe the powder might be better there as it's colder and further from the coast.

Having said all that @abc is right. Best to read more recent professional reviews (e.g. telegraph) online rather than our distant memories. They were good times though!
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
No date on this article. I only ever drive to the slopes (from Calgary) so don't really know for sure but I don't see a lot of buses.

Depending on job hours relying on public transport in Canmore to get to / from skiing is going to be harder than Whistler. If you're in Banff it might be slightly easier than Canmore.

http://banffandbeyond.com/how-to-get-around-the-rocky-mountains-without-a-vehicle/
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I'd talk to people who've done what you want, maybe some of them will turn up here.

I'm not an "occasional tourist". I wouldn't want to be at any ski hill in BC/AB except Whistler without a car.
I have visited most BC/AB ski hills without my own transport, and it can be an adventure, but I'd not want to do that for a season, or at all if I could afford to avoid it.
Getting to and from a supermarket without a car in minus 20 in a place not set up for walking may get old fairly rapidly.

It's easy to avoid the party people in Whistler, or to find them.
The local bus service is cheap and efficient.
Thinking about it most of the Canadians I know there are from Calgary and came up through Banff, and yet ended up in Whistler.

It all depends what you want.
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Keep in mind the OP is 25. Smile

Quote:

Getting to and from a supermarket without a car in minus 20 in a place not set up for walking may get old fairly rapidly.

I did my graduate degree in Michigan. I was 22 when I got there. I didn't have a car for 2 winters. It's hardly a place "set up for walking". The snow bank often get to waist high. The pedestrian "walkway" are then reduced to be a 4" wide icy trench. There're buses, but extremely infrequent (e.g. once an hour). Though they do stop at the supermarket.

But as a 22 year old, it was a challenge that build character! In all seriousness.

"It all depends what you want." +100!
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Canmore = miles from the action.
Whistler = big resort.

Go to Whistler when young.

Canmore when old.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Are other areas an option?
Nelson is close to Whitewater ski hill and Rossland is close to Red.
As mentioned previously Banff is a bit closer to the ski areas of Sunshine and Lake Louise than Canmore is.
Fernie?
Golden/Kickinghorse?
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
If your main interest is getting in time in the slope I’d say Whistler all the way. As someone said the party scene is optional. You can always take a car trip into interior BC mountains once you find somme mates for the true Canadian experience.

If you’re In Whistler you’ll be in walking distance of some lifts most likely and the mountain(s) is all interconnected. Whistler is bigger than Sunshine and Lake Louise put together and in my opinion has much more varied and challenging (other than Delirium Dive maybe) terrain. You’ll get much bigger snowfalls in Whistler being close to the ocean, but may get rain st the base (snow up high) periodically. Band area will be much colder and when it snows more powdery. But from Canmore it’s at least 30 minutes to Sunshine (in a car) and an hour to Lake Louise. Neither has the variety and length of runs of Whistler, though they are beautiful.

If you do Whistler you could check out the towns of Squamish and Pemberton. Not sure what the transit options are, but they are 30-45 minutes from Whistler and might give you that locals vibe.

If it were me I’d work in Whistler and try to get away for a 1-2 week excursion into the interior. Kicking Horse and Revelstoke are both brilliant if you find mates with cars.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
skiscouse wrote:
Whistler is bigger than Sunshine and Lake Louise put together.


Whistler 4757 skiable acres
Blackcomb 3414

Lake Louise 4200
Sunshine Village 3360

Whistler Blackcomb is slightly bigger than Sunshine and Lake Louise put together. But SV and LL are about 30 minutes drive apart, while WB are connected.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Golden might work for you.

More than enough terrain at Kicking Horse to keep you happy for a season


Golden is a real town and will offer you a Canadian experience.

I haven't been in over a decade but friends who are still living there say it hasn't changed that much.

Also chance to road trip to other resorts.

Weekend trips to Calgary.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@Orange200, and separate passes are not available for Whistler and Blackcomb mountains so it’s a bit of an academic point
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
At this point, anywhere is academic. As the OP seems to have gone missing.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
From working in Canmore several years back (albeit in the summer, though on the glaciers), it is very difficult if you don't have your own wheels/access to a vehicle.
Humping kit back and forth gets very tedious after the "joys" of slimming down/minimizing kit pass


Last edited by Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see? on Wed 31-07-19 10:38; edited 1 time in total
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Squamish and Pemberton are unrecognisable from a few years ago, with massive expansion around the time of the Olympics. They aren't "real", being mostly dormitories for Whistler Blackcomb. Squamish is also a summer climbing centre, but the major expansion is related to Whistler.

I would not consider commute by bus, although you can. Pemberton's less likely to have hold-ups as tourists tend to get stuck below the village not above it.

Lillooet is pretty real, but most people would not want to go, and would not find work there.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@AnnaMc, Daughter went to Whistler with BUNAC 7 years ago, had a great time and the BUNAC people did help in getting the SIN and settled. Only real problem is she is still there ! She works in ski school.
You also have an immediate buddy group - generally from the plane forward as many will be on the same flight.
The BIG issue with Whistler is housing. If you can get a job that includes housing (which I assume you will have through Bunac) then it is a great place and you will have a great time. Do be aware though that if you are in "housing" it will be bunk beds in a shared room with someone you have never met before. It can be ok if your shift patterns and life style mesh but a real pain if not.
Hell of a lot of drugs going on, if not with your roomie then in the building, or whoever they bring back.
Zero security for "stuff" so don't take anything that you could not bear to "loose".
You will not get anywhere to live otherwise though.

Public transport is very good in Whistler for everywhere and there is a season pass. If you are in WB housing they lay on a late bus to get people home - its up the hill. During the day you can get the gondola up to Base1 and then walk.

You really can't commute from either Squamish or Pemberton without a car as the bus service is dire.

Can't speak about Canmore.
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Thanks Arno. Whistler and Blackcomb for all intents and purposes ski like one mountain resort but with twice the fun.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
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If you can afford it, whistler is an easy choice. With Canmore, you either work in one of the resorts and have to commute each day, or you work in town which will probably really reduce how much skiing you can get. Whistler you are right next to the slopes and village (if you can get staff accommodation your sorted).

Banff is not that much less "disneyfied" than whistler. If you want to go somewhere in the interior and more "real Canada" rossland is a good choice (red mountain) and you don't need a car. While I love kicking horse I wouldn't really recommend it - it's a bit of a marmite resort and you have to be ok with hiking and steeps to really get the most out of it. Also other than the wft golden is a bit too quiet and boring.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Canmore is a longish drive to Sunshine and a longer drive to Louise (but one of the prettiest in the world). While it is where most workers in the Park and Banff etc actually live (residency caps operate in Banff) and accordingly probably has the best locals "scene" I think WB would all round be a better exoerience if you can make it work economically and find somewhere to live, This latter point is a non-negligible risk in Whistler, every year available jobs exceed available beds andf once you are commuting from Pemberton or Squamish the shine and convenience comes off a bit.
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Whistler, look no further. Vancouver is a 1h15 drive/bus for your Canadian immersion, and, like Jake43 wrote, you may never get back... wink
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I would say no to Canmore, if your priority is sneaking in some half days skiing. It takes a while to get to the slopes from Canmore, and, honestly public transport won't be the best.

I would consider Fernie, Golden, SIlver Star, Sun Peaks or Big White if you think Whistler will swallow you whole.
Also maybe even Nelson/Whitewater
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